Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Exo Planet Super Neptune Discovered

Astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have discovered a planet somewhat larger and more massive than Neptune orbiting a star 120 light-years from Earth. While Neptune has a diameter 3.8 times that of Earth and a mass 17 times Earth's, the new world is 4.7 times the size of Earth and has 25 Earth masses.

Transit detections are particularly useful because the amount of dimming tells the astronomers how big the planet must be. By combining transit data with measurements of the star's "wobble" made by large telescopes like Keck, astronomers can determine the mass of the planet.A number of Neptune-like planets have been found recently by radial velocity searches, but HAT-P-11b is only the second Neptune-like planet found to transit its star, thus permitting the precise determination of its mass and radius.

The newfound world orbits very close to its star, revolving once every 4.88 days. As a result, it is baked to a temperature of around 1100 degrees F. The star itself is about three-fourths the size of our Sun and somewhat cooler.

HAT-P-11 is in the constellation Cygnus, which puts in it the field of view of NASA's upcoming Kepler spacecraft. Kepler will search for extrasolar planets using the same transit technique pioneered by ground-based telescopes. This mission potentially could detect the first Earth-like world orbiting a distant star. "In addition, however, we expect Kepler to measure the detailed properties of HAT-P-11 with the extraordinary precision possible only from space.


Anita J. said...

Hi thanks for visiting Mud and Coffee! How are things there in India?

imac said...

Hi Sriram, Looks very interesting, you seem to know your space -stars - planets, Are you going to be the new Sky at Night -Sir patrick

Thanks for your visit and kind comments.

See my Blog-

Utah Savage said...

Thanks for visiting me at my place. I know nothing about astronomy so I can't say I did more than skim the surface of the post. But I do notice that you must be very happy with the Slum Dog Millionaire win at the Academy awards. Congratulations.

Clarissa said...

Hello there,Sriram!HAve a nice day ahead of u!^_^

sparkzspot said...

Good work.. Have a nice day..

Devin said...

I love anything about astronomy!!! Thanks so much for posting this -all the best to you!!